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Real-time geographic settling of a hybrid zone between the invasive winter moth (Operophtera brumata L.) and the native Bruce spanworm (O. bruceata Hulst)
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  • Jeremy Andersen,
  • Nathan Havill,
  • George Boettner,
  • Jennifer Chandler,
  • Adalgisa Caccone,
  • Joseph Elkinton
Jeremy Andersen
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Nathan Havill
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
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George Boettner
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Jennifer Chandler
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Adalgisa Caccone
Yale University
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Joseph Elkinton
University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Hybridization plays an important and underappreciated role in shaping the evolutionary trajectories of species. Following the introduction of a non-native organism to a novel habitat, hybridization with a native congener may affect the probability of establishment of the introduced species. In most documented cases of hybridization between a native and a non-native species, a mosaic hybrid zone is formed, with hybridization occurring heterogeneously across the landscape. In contrast, most naturally occurring hybrid zones are clinal in structure. Here we report on a long-term microsatellite dataset that monitored hybridization between the invasive winter moth, Operophtera brumata (Lepidoptera: Geometridae), and the native Bruce spanworm, O. bruceata, over a 12-year period. Our results document one of the first examples of the real-time formation and geographic settling of a clinal hybrid zone. In addition, by comparing one transect in Massachusetts where extreme winter cold temperatures have been hypothesized to restrict the distribution of winter moth, and one in coastal Connecticut, where winter temperatures are moderated by Long Island Sound, we find that the location of the hybrid zone appears to be independent of environmental variables and maintained under a tension model wherein the stability of the hybrid zone is constrained by population density, reduced hybrid fitness, and low dispersal rates. Documenting the formation of a contemporary clinal hybrid zone may provide important insights into the factors that shaped other well-established hybrid zones.
02 Sep 2021Submitted to Molecular Ecology
02 Sep 2021Assigned to Editor
02 Sep 2021Submission Checks Completed
25 Sep 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
14 Nov 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
04 Jan 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
Dec 2022Published in Molecular Ecology volume 31 issue 24 on pages 6617-6633. 10.1111/mec.16349